Hageman Introduces Bill To Abolish 'Woke Award' Federal Research Grants Based On DEI

Rep. Hageman introduced a bill Thursday to strip DEI requirements from the $30 billion dollars the National Institutes of Health gives in research grants to universities every year. She said grants should be based on meritocracy not gender and racial quotas.

Leo Wolfson

May 17, 20244 min read

Hageman file 5 17 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyoming, doesn’t believe deciding how federal money is given out for research projects should consider how well the applicant represents diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) benchmarks.

On Thursday, Hageman introduced her Abolishing Woke Awards for Research and Development (AWARD) Act in the U.S. House, legislation that prohibits the National Institutes of Health from distributing research grants and awards through a DEI-weighted merit-based system.

Currently, the NIH considers diversity, equity and inclusion-based criteria in allocating federal money for its grants.

“The billions of taxpayer dollars allocated to the NIH should be used to fuel impactful, groundbreaking scientific research, not to satisfy gender and racial employment quotas,” Hageman said in a Friday statement. “The Biden administration’s countless DEI-first actions have undermined the concepts of meritocracy and meaningful research, and American ingenuity and innovation has suffered as a result.”

DEI requirements have become commonplace in corporate America, particularly the field of higher education, as well as a point of emphasis of President Joe Biden’s administration.

As a result of the Wyoming Legislature cutting its funding for the program, the University of Wyoming cut its DEI office last week.

What It Does

The AWARD Act would require NIH to use selection criteria based on the research being performed when awarding money, and not consider the demographics of those performing the research.

If passed into the law, the bill would require universities to instead explain how their research would benefit the nation.

“I’m proud to introduce this bill that will ensure taxpayer money is allocated in an evidence-based, mutually beneficial way, not as yet another tool weaponized in favor of the Radical Left’s social and political agenda,” Hageman said.

UW Connection

Putting its federal research money at risk was a major concern expressed by the UW Board of Trustees when discussing what to do with its DEI program.

Within the final plan approved by the trustees, a number of exceptions were built in, including nondiscrimination teaching requirements, federal or state compliance and money for any activity that would include research grants.

Hageman said each year the National Institutes of Health awards roughly $30 billion to universities and other research programs across the country. She mentioned one program that requires recipients to provide diversity statements, and those who present a colorblind approach are penalized.

As part of their actions, the UW trustees also agreed to cut a requirement that job candidates and employees issue a diversity statement and be evaluated on their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Hageman told Cowboy State Daily that she agrees with not funding DEI at UW.

“The purpose of a university is to educate its students and provide them with the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in life," she said. "It is not to coddle them, promote the success of some students over others, or supress any student’s constitutionally protected right to free speech.

"The Wyoming legislature was right to cut funding for the DEI department and programming, both of which are an unnecessary part of the university experience. It is imperative that our elected officials hold the university accountable for carrying out this public policy, especially in light of the recent statements made by university personnel during the public meeting.”

UW President Ed Seidel and most of the trustees expressed great reluctance about these changes, offering statements of support for the DEI programs and goals while also acknowledging they must answer to the Legislature.

According to NIH data, UW has received $4.8 million in grants from NIH in 2024 alone.

Hageman said ​​one-third of the University of New Mexico’s evaluation criteria is devoted to an applicant’s “DEI knowledge” and “DEI track record.” Other schools in the South use a selection process to prioritize critical race theory and seek to be the public face of DEI in their respective area.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

Share this article



Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter